07 June, 2020
With the early breakdown of covid-19, all flights were cancelled worldwide. Here are some real stories to find out how the public suffered from its unheard consequences.
Media from wix
The year 2020 has definitely not been the year for human race. From bushfires in Australia that threatened the south-coast of the country, the UK officially leaving the European Union, to the shocking helicopter crash that killed the legendary, Kobe Bryant, and his daughter Gigi Bryant along with seven other passengers in Calabasas, California, the year started on a rather rough patch.
Covid-19 has overpowered all tragedies. On March 10, Italy became the first country to implement a nationwide lockdown. Within two weeks, all flights and subsequent travel was banned worldwide. This posed an extremely difficult situation for people living or working abroad, including those who had already booked their tickets to travel in the next few months. Many travel agencies and airlines refused to refund the money back to their customers as it posited the threat of going bankrupt.
Today, the internet is filled with angry customers complaining about various airlines and travel agencies.One such particular case is with the UK based travel agency, ‘Travel UP.” The agency claims to provide valuable flight deals from over 400 airlines.
TheTravelXS booked a two-way flight from London to Amsterdam on 9th March 2020 to depart on 27th March 2020. The said flight was to be operated by British Airways’ airline. The agency provided the same tickets for £107, £10 cheaper than what was offered on the airline’s official website.
On March 17, the agency emailed us with a revised flight schedule and asked to choose a new flight option from the given list. Upon informing them that we do not wish to travel amidst a global pandemic, ten days later, they sent an email stating that we are entitled to get a refund of £95.30.
Screenshot Evidence 1
We agreed for the said refund amount and did not hear back from them until April 16th. The email now posited:
“Thank you for your email apology for the delay but please be informed that there was a typing error in my last email. You are entitled to get £30.43 not £95.30.”
Screenshot Evidence 2
For saving £10, we were now in a pickle with an agency who could not have their emails written with the right numbers, let alone the right grammar. On the other hand, British Airways were giving full refunds in the form of a redeemable voucher that can be used for booking the tickets in the future. But since we had booked our tickets through the agency, we were not allowed to do so and the airline's website stated:
‘You have booked your tickets through an agency. Please enter your IATA code to redeem the voucher.’
The IATA code is only available to the agency staff which was obviously not shared with us. We received £30 in our bank account even though we had never agreed to it. Not to forget, the agency did not pick up our phone calls or replied to the emails for two months. The latest email was received on 2 July stating a £50 administration fee is being applied to the booking, but even then, the money doesn’t add up in accordance to the amount that was initially paid for the tickets. (£107)
We are still awaiting to hear back from them and find a redressal from their end. TheTravelXS strongly advises our readers to never book a flight with the TravelUp agency.
The problems that came with the travel ban were not limited only to the monetary aspect. We interviewed some international students from different parts of the world to get a deeper insight of their covid-19 travel stories. With the early measures that were implemented when the pandemic started, many students had to go through some grim situations to reach their hometown safely. From boarding an evacuation flight to crossing the country border on foot, we have gathered some real stories with never heard circumstances.
The first case is of Federico Croff, 20, an Italian student studying at UCFB, London. He received a phone call from his mother on 10th March as the Italian government decided to shut down the country’s borders.
With such a short notice, he ran in haste to his room and packed his essentials in one luggage and a handbag. He boarded a flight from London to Zurich, Switzerland. (as there were no direct flights to Italy)
From Zurich, he was lucky enough to board the last train which helped him to reach Chiasso, a small town near the border of Switzerland and Italy. From Chiasso train station, he walked approximately ten miles to reach the Italian border, with all his belongings on his back.
The Italian border police denied him entry to his own home country as the border rules state that no individual is allowed to cross borders on foot. After several hours of
Federico Croff, Student, UCFB.
intense arguments, his father came along and requested the police to allow his son to enter the country as they were in an unprecedented
situation. He was finally able to cross and reach his home safely.
When the Pandemic started, most of the people tried to go back to their home country but sadly, could not, because of the travel ban.
The case of Vaishnavi Singh, 24, student at University of Westminster, is not as intense as the former one, rather it restores some faith in the functioning of airlines.
She booked a flight from London to New Delhi, India on 12th April, 2020. The flight was booked with an Indian Airline company, called AirIndia. She has not been able to get back to her home until today (July 2020), although the airline has offered a voucher where she can book tickets until September for free, excluding the difference, if any.
Amidst the pandemic, we also saw some countries, like Japan, the UK, India etc. offering evacuation flights for the national residents to reach their home country safely.
The expenses however, were twice as usual, with a one-way ticket that cost approximately £800. The passengers also had to pay extra charges for a 14-
Vaishnavi Singh, Student, University of
day quarantine that followed upon their departure. On 17th May, 2020, Devang Bhaduria, student at University of Westminster, was shortlisted by the Indian Embassy to board a flight back to his hometown, the following week. He was informed to reach the airport, nine hours prior to the departure on 23rd May. This included various medical check-ups before he was finally approved and marked safe to board the flight.
Every passenger boarding that flight was also asked to sign a declaration form stating that anything that happens in the journey, is not a responsibility of the Airline company.
Devang Bhaduria, Student, University of Westminster
Devang informs TheTravelXS that the airline assured him that social distancing rules will be implemented during the journey, however, there were none taken. As a matter of fact, in an aircraft with a capacity of 381 passengers, there were 371 passengers already. It was a nine and a half hour journey, from London to Mumbai and passengers were given no food or snacks during the whole journey. Another fact to be noted is that the flight was delayed for three hours.
He added, ‘We were only given one water bottle and a juice box during our flight from London to Mumbai.’
After reaching Mumbai, he boarded another flight from Mumbai to his hometown, Indore. The passengers were not given any food in this flight either.
From the airport at Indore, a bus was designated to drop all passengers to the hotel where they were required to quarantine for 14 days. Turns out the bus also got delayed for three more hours.
Although the journey was supposed to be for 15 hours, with the delays at each airport, formalities and time difference, the journey lasted for 3 days (72 hours) with almost no food and a couple water bottles and juice boxes.
Last but not the least, this case is of Nour-Al-Hayani, resident of Cairo, Egypt. She booked a last minute flight from Cairo to Berlin with Lufthansa airline. The airline did not provide any update about the flight being cancelled and the website was not updated as well.
She went to the airport as usual but learned that there is no flight boarding today, from other passengers that were in the same position as hers at the airport.
The airline stated that since she had booked a flight that was already unavailable, the airline will not refund any amount back. Whereas, she exclaimed that the website should not provide an option to book cancelled flights in the first place. The dispute is ongoing and she has filed a
Nour-Al-Hayani, 22, Resident of Egypt